Tom Kearfott, left, watches his tee shot along with partner Mike Cushing during a match in last year's Bloomington-Normal Two-Man Best Position. Kearfott and Cushing will team up again for Bloomington-Normal in the 12th annual Signature Cup against Decatur on Saturday and Sunday at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State.

NORMAL — The only time Bloomington-Normal lost the Signature Cup against Decatur was in 2007, the first year for the Ryder Cup-style event.

Yet Bloomington-Normal won't come into the 12th Signature Cup on Saturday and Sunday riding a lengthy winning streak. Last year at Red Tail Run Golf Club in Decatur, Bloomington-Normal came up clutch in the final holes to gain a 14-all tie and retained possession of the Signature Cup by virtue of being defending champion.

So Bloomington-Normal captain Craig Onsrud doesn't expect his team to come in overconfident at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State despite holding a dominating 9-1-1 advantage in the series.

"I'm sure they (Decatur) will come guns blazing and ready to go," said Onsrud. "Maybe we kind of snatched it from them last year. I'm sure that put a sour taste in their mouths. We'll let the team know be ready to play."

Onsrud, in his second year as Signature Cup captain, and assistants Mike Cushing and Elston Mitchell are calling on some veteran help this weekend.

The Bloomington-Normal amateur men include Cushing, Mike Henry, Tom Kearfott, Grant Milling, Ben Kilborn, David Marquardt, Matt Gumm, Alan Bardwell and Joe Bierbaum to go with Onsrud, who is Ironwood Golf Course's professional.

"We decided to go back to Mid-Ams (25 years and older), the way the format started," said Onsrud. "We could absolutely load our team with college players if we wanted to."

The senior amateur men for Bloomington-Normal include Brad Barker, Greg Wohlford and Jay Sparks. Marisa Milligan and Sarah Lyman will be the amateur women.

Action starts at 8 a.m. Saturday with alternate shot. The afternoon session features best ball, with Sunday's 14 singles matches beginning at 9 a.m. It takes 14½ points to win the Signature Cup.

"We're definitely not feeling overconfident," said Onsrud. "We have to play some golf. We've got some players on the team who are playing good golf right now. We've got some players with home-field advantage."

Bierbaum was a finalist in last week's Bloomington-Normal Match Play Tournament, with Henry advancing to the semifinals. Milling was a quarterfinalist this week in the Chicago District Golf Association Amateur.

Milligan, a former Illinois State Women's Amateur champion, will be competing in the event for the first time since 2010. Onsrud said Milligan, now a dentist in Bloomington, warmed up by shooting 68 recently in a Central Illinois Country Club Association tourney.

"Sometimes when people got it they've still got it," said Onsrud, smiling.

Pro Kurtis Rogers again will be Decatur's captain.

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Contact Jim Benson at (309) 820-3404. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Benson



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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